Hi & welcome to my PS blog! This blog is for full PS although some steps will also work in PSE. Most actions, unless stated are not PSE compatiable. I do try to make an action for PSE from time to time. I hope you have fun here and learn some things along the way. If you have any questions, just drop me a comment! :O)

Friday, March 9, 2012

Two FREE small actions...

Hello...anyone there!  I know I know, it's been a while!  Sorry about that.  I've been laying a bit low!  I do have some action review posts coming up.  I'm going to review Florabella's Classic Workflow (finally) and a couple sets from my newest love, My Four Hens Actions!

I haven't really recorded any actions for a while now.  When you have as many actions from other makers like I do, it's hard to be motivated to record actions when you have a panel stocked with everything you need!  I only record actions for myself now when I need something specific!  So that's what I'm sharing today!

One set is called...  MZ Hazy Matte Freebies

This set has two actions...one is a BW action that I've been using a lot lately and the other are color matte haze toppers!

The BW action I use on it's own and also as a topper.  I like to run M4H Matty at 50% then run mine on top and tweak it for a light, airy and slightly hazy BW. I also like to run it as a topper over other BW actions. It gives just that little bit of pop over other BW actions.  If you run it as a topper over another BW action or BW layers, you'll most likely need to tone down BW with Boost layer!  You can tweak, lower or delete the Punch layer.  And the cherry on top for me with this action is the two haze layers that are turned off.  One will give you a darker Matte Haze and one will give you a lighter Matte Haze! I always use one of the hazes...always!  But you don't have to of course!

Here is one of the BEFORE images I'll use for my examples so you can see how it altered this image! My girls on their first day of school last September (my big starting 5th grade & my little starting Kinder).  I don't have before shots for the other examples as there would be too many.  But this shot is closest to a clean posed type shot.



And some examples of the BW action...

I tend to prefer the Hazy Dark layer most times...





I also like to use this BW action as a topper.  Sometimes I will top it over another BW to give it a bit more punch. If I do this I turn down the BW with Boost layer to about 15% and usually lower the Pinch layer to around 50%.  If I'm using it on top of a color action (like my example) then I usually just adjust the Punch layer if needed!  You can also go into the Slight Contrast layer and adjust the levels. I will often times adjust the Mids and possibly bring the hightlights back to 255 and if my shadows are too muddy I will bring down the shadows.  But if you are going to turn on a haze layer, it will bring those shadows back up so I will leave the Slight Contast layer alone if I'm turning on a haze layer...



And a few more examples I did the other day...





and now onto the Color Matte Haze toppers.These are not meant to be used on SOOC images.  They are meant to be used in conjunction with and on top of other actions/layers!  I use these often! I LOVE these!  They are GREAT to give a soft matte feel to your images without being too much or making your images and skin tones muddy. It will also bring your highlights down if you need to!  If you have a shot with a lot of mixed high hot sun (as long as the image isn't blown out) these toppers will really help mute the light and even it out while bringing up your shadows and giving you more detail in your shadows!    My favorite is the Red Haze and that's the one I use most...









and I recently recorded this action while playing around with different layer types the other day!  I haven't used it much because I kind of forgot about it! Lol!  It will just give you a soft creamy slightly hazy edit. The master opacity is set to 75%.  You can lower or raise it or open up the folder and adjust layers or settings within the layers. You can run this on a SOOC image but depending on your camera and how you shoot and edit, you may need to add some layers of your own.  You can also run this as a topper on top of other layers/actions and bring the master opacity down!

MZ Creamy Haze ...

I only did one example for this but you can compare it to the BEFORE example.  I ran the action and let it exactly as is with no adjustments...



The sky is the limit so play, discover and create...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Editing 16bit vs 8bit...

My original post HERE had problems in showing my images.  Not sure why but I wanted to try to repost the pictures only.  If you want to read what I wrote...please refer to the old post!

8bit....


16bit...



before and after...



Action review... Pure Actions & some thoughts on actions...

Hi there everyone! I'm back with another action review! First I quickly wanted to chat a bit about my thoughts on actions and what works for me!

I get a lot of questions regarding what actions I use the most and which are my favorite. So I'll answer that question first...all of them! Lol! Not too helpful right! Well for me, I don't have one set that I love more than another. I have several different action makers loaded in my actions panel. And as many of you know, I use actions for 95% of my editing! I do things by hand as well. But most of what I need, I can do with the actions I have loaded. I think actions are wonderful and very helpful, not to mention a huge time saver. But I feel to be able to use actions and use them well (not as a crutch) you of course first have to have a good SOOC shot! There is no action that will fix your photos better than taking a good SOOC shot and enhancing it! So learn in camera first! Learn your camera, how to exposure properly and how to watch for good light. It will make editing easier, faster with better final images. Then learn PS. Learn to edit on your own. Learn to clean edit. Once you have both foundations in control, then you can start to learn to use actions. You may have noticed I said.... "start to LEARN to use actions"! That's not a mistake. Actions aren't a magic fix nor should they be used as a crutch. But when you are ready to start using them...LEARN them FIRST!!!! Not all actions are created equally. Not all actions will be your style!!! Not all actions look good on all photos and all different lighting. And 99% of the time, the action will need some adjustments and masking! If you take the time to learn your action and what each layer does and the overall look you can get with different actions, then you can begin to use them as your workflow!

Onto my favorite makers! I now have my style pretty defined and know who I want to buy from. There are so many action makers out there, you can go broke buying them all. Then what happens is your wallet is too empty and your actions panel is too full. What happens when your action panel is too full...you become overwhelmed and don't use them! It takes time to learn who you really like and who fits your style. But once you do, you'll be using them and using them well! I like variety and like to edit each image as an individual as per the mood & lighting in each photo. So my actions panel gives me the variety to edit each image as I see fit! Makers that I like are, Lilyblue, Pure Actions, Florabella, MCP, Michelle Kane, Red Leaf and some TRA! As you can see, there is a wide variety of looks from maker to maker. But each maker has a look that fits the variety of style that I like for my photos. It's different for everyone!

So the next question I get is.... "How is this set/maker different from this set/maker" or "I already have this set from this maker, can it do what this new set/maker can do"! That's a tough one to answer! Creative edits are whole different story. So I'll just quickly talk about clean edits! I have three main makers I go to for clean edits... Pure Actions, Florabella (new workflow set) & Michelle Kane! Each will give me a nice clean edit I will love! But...there IS a difference in the look of the clean edit from each maker! I can take the same photo and run clean edits on each from each maker, and they will be slightly different. That is the difference of style per maker. So one is not better than the other...just different. Depending on the light & mood of the photo and what final look I want, will determine who I use for that clean edit! Below I'll show you what I mean. Do know that the Pure action examples were already done and the Michelle Kane (MK) & Florabella (FB) examples I just did. If I had more time the MK & FB examples would be better! I'm not trying to show that one is better than the other...in ANY way! Only that for me, all three produce a good clean edit but each have a slightly different feel to them...




And now onto my Pure Actions review...

What can I say! Pure Actions are truly EXACTLY what they say...PURE! I will give a leg up to Pure Actions for my clean edits. When I want truly clean, truly pure, truly beautiful clean edits...I go to my Pure Actions! They are different than any actions in my panel! Hard to explain exactly how they are different...but they are! There is something to the quality and look I get with them that is really so Pure and clean! I was never too big on clean edits because I could never get a clean edit I LOVED! I could get a clean edit..but it always bored me and I always felt something was missing. So I'd do a clean base edit, then go creative over! But since I've gotten Pure Actions, I now do more clean edits than I ever have and feel that my clean edits now have that something that was missing. That something that took it from a clean edit snapshot to a clean edit professional print quality! Wow...that was a terrible sentence! Lol! These actions will take your images and bring them to the next professional level! They are great for sessions, events and family snaps! I can get my clean edits done in half the time with a much more professional looking clean edit now. THAT makes me happy! Most of the clean edits in my Idaho 2011 Album were done with Pure actions! Which you'll notice is where a lot of my examples came from!

I'll break down the sets I use and which actions within that sets are my most used...

Pure 1 ~ Come out of the shadows baby, Warm that baby up, Hazy Baby, Hazy Baby 2, Fix all that red baby, Look at all that color baby (SWOON)

Pure 2 ~ Cloud 9 baby (SWOON), Snap that baby, Boost the shadows, Boost the blue (SWOON) & Boost the Yellows (SWOON)

Just a Pinch ~ A pinch of warming (SWOON), A pinch of haze, A pinch of Soft Light (SWOON), A pinch of makeup (SWOON), A pinch of Aloe Vera (SWOON), A pinch of tone and A pinch of Film Noir

Pure Haze ~ Yellow haze (SWOON times 2), Pink haze, A touch of haze, Brown haze, Get rid of that yellow (SWOON), Custom clean light, Pure Haze, Warm soft & pop (SWOON) and Pop the haze

SWOON means they are the ones I CANNOT live without and use the most! I do use others from each set, but these are my most used Pure actions!

And for my standard clean fast workflow when using Pure actions, I usually use Look at all that color baby, Boost the shadows/yellows/blues (which ever are present & needed per photo) and if I want a bit more in my edit I'll add (if needed) A pinch of warming or Cloud 9. Again this is kind of my base Pure editing and when I just want to take a good SOOC shot and have a normal basic clean edit! Super fast with GREAT clean PURE results!

I can honestly say, for CLEAN edits, Pure Actions have been my best spent money! I can also say that while I love them for their clean results, I freaking love the Pure Haze set. What amazes me the most about this set, is that you can get CLEAN CREATIVE edits! Who knew right! Ha! Really, they are creative with a bit of tonal shift and haze...but still SO CLEAN! They are light & thin and not over the top!

Now onto what I love the MOST about Pure Actions....

* their ability to give you the most clean edits WITHOUT adding too much contrast and making your images muddy, your shadows too dark or requiring too much adjustments or masking

* their ability to RETAIN DETAIL in your images!

* their ability to pop colors as they should be without making them go wonky & neon or spending tons of time masking on skin

*their ability to not be overly bright (which goes with retaining detail and not spending tons of time adjusting & masking)

* their ability to save me SO much time on clean edits

now onto what I don't like.... this is a review...so I have to be 100% open & honest! I assure, there is only ONE thing...

* having to flatten in between actions. I would love to see Pure Actions work as MK & FB and be able to run actions on top of each other. I have to take many snapshots when using Pure Actions and have to flatten after almost every action. That would be the ONLY thing I would like to see change. On the other hand, if in doing this, it changed their actions a bit...I'd rather have to flatten forever. Because THAT is how much I LOVE Pure Actions!

Wow...that was a lot. Now onto my examples. I'm not going to list what I ran for each image. This post is LONG enough! Lol! But you have a list of my most used up top and it will give you an idea of what I used. I will say however, that I still use TRA Boutwell Magic Glasses on a lot of my images (mostly on non people shots) and I do use MK See Things Clearer for my sharpening, MK Glisten & Eyecitment for my eyes. So I cannot say much for Pure sharpening actions or their eye actions. I know they are probably great. But I've been using the MK sharpening action and it's what I've stuck with because it's perfect for me!












So...I give Pure Actions TWO thumbs up! If you are wanting really good PURE clean edits, you will LOVE Pure Actions! And not to mention, Crystal & Rachel are two of the most kind hearted and talented women I know! I assure you, they will not be a waste of money and their actions are priced well. You'll get your money worth!
One last note...I've been having some issues with my Zenfolio not showing some of my images. Some say they are locked/private. I apologize for this issue and I'm am uncertain what is causing it as all of my blog albums are public and always have been. Some show and some don't. I started a new album for this blog and hope that it fixes the issues. My fingers are crossed that everyone will be able to see all of the images I posted!
I hope this review was helpful and please feel free to ask any questions you have in my comments section. I will answer to the best of my, mom with a camera, ability! Lol! Just make sure to come back and check for my response! HAPPY THURSDAY!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Editing in 8bit vs 16 bit...

There is a lot of info on the web about editing in 8bit & 16bit.  You can google until your eyeballs pop out!  I do not claim to be a professional and know all the the techy info.  But I know and understand the basics and what an average person needs to understand!  So rather than try to explain what I know and why I edit in 16bit vs 8bit, I will link you to a great post and then show you a GREAT visual example between the two!

Damien Symonds ~ Bit Depth Explained by Cake

(photo by Shelley Shaffer edited by me with permission.  Edited with Florabella's Classic BW from her new Workflow set, which is AMAZING and her best set to date)

This one was edited in 8bit.  as you can see, there is a rainbow of banding on the backdrop!  You could not give this to a client!



Exact same image, exact same action/edit!  The only difference is this was edited in 16bit and not converted to 8bit until I was ready to save.  Look at that beautiful smooth background!  THIS you could give to a client!


And I always love a side by side together!  Top edited in 8bit & bottom edited in 16bit!  And what I also noticed is the color on the 8bit is off as well


I hope between Damien's post and my visual example, it will show you the benefits of editing in 16bit.  It's more important on shots with solid large backgrounds such as backdrops or lots of sky in shots etc!  Jump on the 16bit bandwagon...you won't regret it!

And coming up (not sure when since I've been really busy lately) I will have two new Action Review blog posts!   I will be reviewing

Pure Actions (various different sets which I will go over in the post)

and

Florabella (her NEW Workflow set)

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!  :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A FREE action share ~ MZ Golden Backlight...

I know it's been SO long since I shared an action! Sorry, but I haven't made any to share! Lol! This one I actually started working on at the end of last Summer...September 2010! Yikes! I kind of forgot about it, then when I thought about it I was too lazy to finish the layers then record the action and do the examples.

But tonight I finally did it! This is of course FREE which I know makes many happy! It is only one action and not a whole set. This action is meant to be an all in one action for back lit photos. It has layers that are turned off so that you may personalize this action to suit your needs per photo. You can embrace the haze and keep it light & airy. Or you can turn on other layers and upping the layer opacity of others to remove some of the haze and get more contrast and depth. You can turn layers on, off, up or down and even go into the adjustment layers and fiddle with the settings to make it truly your own!

I love this little action and find it very easy to use and I love the ability to go more clean and subtle or really bump on the layers and get a creative look! You can also, as you will see below, use this action on front lit images as well, but you will need to do a bit more tweaking to get it right! And don't be afraid to mask. On one of my examples I didn't like the tones on Nugget's face, so I masked her out of one layer and then with the alt key, dragged that layer mask to the others where I did not want the tone on her face and was able to quickly remove the colors I didn't want on her. And for those who are just learning or want to get better at really learning your actions! Try this...

Download this action and open a back lit shot. Run the action and open the folder. Start at the very top layer. Click that eye on & off a few times while looking at your image. Do this for every.single.layer in this action. Then turn on & off the ones that are already off and watch to see what they are doing to your photo. Also as you do this, take the opacity slider and go from left to right to see how playing the opacity of that specific layer affects your photo. As I edit I will often turn the whole folder opacity on & off to see my before and after shot quickly! And if you love exactly how the action looks but feel it's just a bit too strong, just lower the opacity of the whole folder. I did that on the shot of Nugget holding the coffee cup in her black/gray outfit. The action was perfect but just a tad strong, so I lowered the folder opacity to 85% and that was it. And do this every.single.time you run this action, or any action, until you've gotten to know what that action does. This is how I am able to have such a large actions panel filled with wonderful actions from amazing makers and be able to get the most out of them. I know when to run which one and maker for that matter and when to combine to get a look special to only me! Don't be afraid to play around and experiment! If you don't like it, just hit delete! But you are not doing your checkbook or your actions panel, or your images for that matter, any justice if you have all these actions and don't know them well enough to really use them!

This action does NOT work in PSE!! Users with CS3 or lower may get an error at the end of the action, due to a Vibrancy layer that came out with CS4. I am hoping that you will still be able to use the action but I cannot make any promises. But since it's FREE, it doesn't hurt to download it and try it out right! This action will also work best on SOOC images that have only RAW editing done to them! Make sure your white balance and exposure are adjusted and where they need to be from your RAW processor before you run this action. If you shoot jpeg, this action will be pretty strong on your already edited {in camera} images and will require more tweaking and lowering of layers and possibly folder opacity!

I have 10 examples to show you of how I use this action! Again, there are several possibilities with this action that I could've gotten different looks per photo depending on what layers I use and don't and layer opacity. I won't be going into specific layer detail for each of my examples.


This was the photo that actually inspired the start of this action. First day of school. Can't believe the year is already over and we in the middle of summer break...


I went a little more extreme with this one and I could have gone light & airy if I'd wanted that look...


Here since there are not any large shadow or dark areas of the photo, I kept it light and airy...


This is one where I masked a bit of the tones off of her face and dragged that mask to the other colors that I wanted to remove off of just her face...


I also removed the haze and some of the tones off her only her in this shot too again using the alt key to drag the layer mask of the first mask I painted on so I wouldn't have to paint her out of each layer I didn't want on her...


This was a bad shot that ended up a favorite. I have it edited as a grainy low contrast bw. But I wanted to see what it would look like with this action on it and I loved it. I turned on the "Darken the Shadows" layer and lowered the opacity to 50%. I initially meant to lower the opacity of that layer to 15% as the action recorded but I totally forgot and was too tired to record the whole action over again. And the great thing about it being a FREE action, I don't have too! Ha! So when you turn that layer on, it will be strong and in most cases will need to be turned way down unless you have a tone of haze on your image...


And here are two examples of well lit, front lit images that this action worked great on. On this image I had to tweak a lot and turned off several layers, lowered layer opacity and turned on some of the other layers that come turned off. But it didn't take too long and I really like the color tone of the edit...


This is the one that I loved the second I ran it exactly as is. It was a bit strong so I lowered the whole folder opacity to 85% and didn't anything else! I also love depending on the tones and light in your photo, the different types of looks you can get with this action...


Perfect for the look I wanted here. I adjusted a few minor things and turned on the "Darken the shadows" layer and brought the opacity down to 30% I believe...


This one I turned off the edge burn, lowered the dollop of whip cream and I believe that was it...


And this one makes me really happy! I think this action would work GREAT on beach sunset pictures {with or without people} but I don't have any. So this sunset shot is as close as I can get for now! I apologize ahead of time for the power lines. On the image I'd already edited, I removed them. But didn't have it in me to do it again! But I'm in LOVE with the colors tones and overall image after the action. I made a few small adjustments but not many...


So if after seeing all my examples and babble..you want to download it for FREE, head on over

DOWNLOAD ME FOR FREE!!!!!

I hope you like it and don't have any problems with it. You can email me at momaziggy AT yahoo DOT com with any questions or if you'd like to share before & after images with me. I always LOVE to see people's before & after images. I'm not in business so I don't have a Facebook Fan page or anything, so emailing them is the only way I believe I can see them. I don't think you can attach them to the comments but if you load them somewhere, you can link me in the comments!

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Friday, July 8, 2011

4th of July fun...

*****I posted this on the wrong blog...I meant to post it on my Ziggy blog! Oops..lol! Too tired to move it now but will soon! Sorry PS people! :) *****

I hope everyone had a wonderful, safe and fun 4th of July...well to my American friends that is! :) We had a great 4th of July. We stayed home, did crafts in the cool house during the day and headed out to BBQ with friends in the heat of the backyard later in the day.

I was sick all week so I wasn't prepared for the holiday this year. I wanted to have the girls do crafts and make some fun themed food. But since I was in bed all week, Eric had to go shopping the morning of the 4th and my supplies were limited. But the girls had fun with the crafts and food we did have to make, so that's all that matters.

All day time shots were edited with Lilyblue Simple Three and the night time shots were edited with Lilyblue Simple One, both from her Simple Set!

The flag fans they made for our guests. Haylee up top and Avyree on the bottom...



I made a demo the night before so they could see how to do them...


The paper lanterns were the big hit though. The girls loved making them...


I had found a really cute craft to do on these round cardboard cut outs that would've covered them up. But I didn't have the right supplies and it just didn't work out. So we wrote Happy 4th of July and the just stuck stickers on them...lol...


And here are all three of the crafts they made...


4th of July Strawberries! These were a big hit with everyone and they didn't last too long...


When Eric went shopping, all the 4th of July cookies were gone so he got his favorite, Peanut Butter cookies. These may not look festive but they were yummy...


And I made my very first red white & blue jello cake. I didn't take pictures of the final cake decorated because I forgot. Here it is as it was sitting. When we flipped it over we forgot to sit it in warm water for a few to help the red separate from the tin. So the red fell apart and the blueberries just rolled off the red jello...teehee! But the whip cream looked good for the white part..lol! I'll make it again next year and hopefully will do better and be feeling better as well. But all in all, it still tasted yummy and the girls loved it...


Here are the decorations hung up on our back patio. I still wasn't feeling good and it was so hot and humid I didn't take time to hang them up nicely. Just literally taped up the string. But hey, it's festive and it made the girls happy so it'll work...


And speaking of hot & humid. We had already gone through several bags of water balloons. But if felt like back East, it was so hot, muggy and humid. So the girls jumped into our buckets filled with water. Gotta do what you gotta do to keep cool right...


I didn't take any pictures of our BBQ or our guests. Now I wish I had of course. But between the heat, me not feeling good and getting all the food ready and on the table, it just didn't happen. But the ribs, tri tip, pasta salad, potatoes and beans were YUMMY! You'll just have to take my word for it! Lol!

Then our little backyard fireworks before the big ones from the local high school. These are the only firework pictures I shot. My friend even brought me her tripod so I could shoot the big ones. But I just wasn't feeling it...same story for the past few weeks. So I had drinks instead and just sat and watched them in the front yard. I shot fireworks 2 years ago and since we live in the same house, it's the same show from the same school, I figured they wouldn't look any different than those so why bother...lol. But here was our pre show...



And that was our 4th of July! Thanks for looking! :)

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About my PS Blog

Hi, my name is Crystal and I am addicted to Photoshop. I have PSCS4 and it's my other half. I love photography, but sometimes I think it's a means to edit!

So I thought it would be fun to have a place to post the free action sets I record, tips and tricks that I learn in PS and tuts for various different types of photo editing.

I hope you enjoy and find my PS blog helpful and if you have any questions, leave me a comment with your questions and your email address and I will get back to you!

Happy editing!

About Me

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I am a stay at home to 2 great girls. My older daughter Haylee just started middle school and my younger daughter Avyree is in 1st grade! I have been married 11 years to my hubs Eric. I got my first DSLR June 31, 2008 and have been hooked ever since! My style is primarily Lifestyle! I like to take a natural and real life approach to my images! I want them to remind me of WHO my girls were when they were little, not just what they looked like. I love to edit and my editing style is always evolving and changing! I like variety and photography is a means to edit! I shoot Canon (full frame) and almost only primes. I pull out my wide angle zoom from time to time! Thanks for stopping by and I hope you like our story...
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